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In a way, the missionary position is the physical equivalent of the old "I'm busy washing my hair" excuse -- it's the brush-off used when you're lazy, tired, or just not that interested. But despite being one of the most passive contortions for a woman, man-on-top can still provide a pretty good workout.
"It depends on how enthusiastic you are about it, but missionary can be great for the core muscles," says Stacy Berman, a New York City-based certified fitness trainer and founder of Stacy's Boot Camp. "If your partner is thrusting toward you, you want to have an equal and opposite thrust back, and that requires a lot of core strength. It actually will start burning."
Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching and immediate past president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, agrees that you'll definitely be feeling it in your abs. "You can strengthen your core by focusing on pelvic lifting using your core, not your lower back. That's where women tend to get stuck -- they tend to rely on their lower back to give them propulsion." (The risk of which isn't a joke, either. Worst-case scenario, you could throw out your back or sustain some other injury -- not exactly a bedroom turn-on.)
Missionary position can also provide a good butt workout. "The more she does buttock squeezes, the more she could accentuate her riding toward him to give herself a good glute workout," Britton says.